Japanese School in Japan,Fukuoka - NILS

School News

Today’s Japanese Phrase: Onomatopoeia


Hello, today’s topic is Japanese onomatopoeia.


The Japanese language has a variety of onomatopoeias.

An onomatopoeia is a word that mimics the sound of a condition or emotion. For example, “meow-meow” is an onomatopoeia to express a cat crying.


Unfortunately, it is impossible to list all Japanese onomatopoeias here. So, let me introduce some of the “repeat twice” type of onomatopoeia for illustration. 

Please try to use them in your daily conversation!



わくわく(waku-waku): Excited about something and looking forward to it.

どきどき(doki-doki): Heart is beating baster due to excitement, anxiety, falling in love, etc.)

いらいら(ira-ira): Irritated.



   Mōsugu kurisumasu da! Wakuwaku surunā

            (Christmas is coming soon! I am so excited!)


            Kanojo no utsukushī me wa watashi wo dokidoki saseru.

             (Her beautiful eyes make my heart beat faster.)


             Pasokon no ugoki ga osokute iraira suru.

              (This laptop works slowly, and that irritates me.)



きらきら(kira-kira): Something is shining.

ぐるぐる(gru-guru): Something is turning round and round.



             Anata no yubiwa wa kirakira hikatte kireidesune.

             (Your ring is shining bright and beautiful.)


              Merīgōrando ga guruguru mawatteiru.

              (A merry-go-round is turning round and round)



★Quick Quiz★

What kind of emotions/conditions do these two onomatopoeias represent? Can you guess?

(The answers are at the bottom of this article.)


ねばねば(neba-neba)       ふわふわ(fuwa-fuwa)



If you want to learn more about Japanese onomatopoeia, you should check Japanese manga (comics). They are a treasure chest of onomatopoeias!



**Answer for Quiz here   

Naba-neba: Sticky (Japanese food natto is a representative of neba-neba foods.)

Fuwa-fuwa: fluffy to illustrate cloud, fur, cotton candy and other fluffy things.




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